ACIM Text Reading for April 2
Chapter 11 ~ God or the Ego
V. The ‘Dynamics’ of the Ego
No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are protected. There is no need to shrink from illusions, for they cannot be dangerous. We are ready to look more closely at the ego’s thought system because together we have the lamp that will dispel it, and since you realise you do not want it, you must be ready. Let us be very calm in doing this, for we are merely looking honestly for truth. The ‘dynamics’ of the ego will be our lesson for a while, for we must look first at this to see beyond it, since you have made it real. We will undo this error quietly together, and then look beyond it to truth.
What is healing but the removal of all that stands in the way of knowledge? And how else can one dispel illusions except by looking at them directly, without protecting them? Be not afraid, therefore, for what you will be looking at is the source of fear, and you are beginning to learn that fear is not real. You are also learning that its effects can be dispelled merely by denying their reality. The next step is obviously to recognise that what has no effects does not exist. Laws do not operate in a vacuum, and what leads to nothing has not happened. If reality is recognised by its extension, what leads to nothing could not be real. Do not be afraid, then, to look upon fear, for it cannot be seen. Clarity undoes confusion by definition, and to look upon darkness through light must dispel it.
Let us begin this lesson in ‘ego dynamics’ by understanding that the term itself does not mean anything. It contains the very contradiction in terms that makes it meaningless. ‘Dynamics’ implies the power to do something, and the whole separation fallacy lies in the belief that the ego has the power to do anything. The ego is fearful to you because you believe this. Yet the truth is very simple:
When we look at the ego, then, we are not considering dynamics but delusions. You can surely regard a delusional system without fear, for it cannot have any effects if its source is not real. Fear becomes more obviously inappropriate if you recognise the ego’s goal, which is so clearly senseless that any effort on its behalf is necessarily expended on nothing. The ego’s goal is quite explicitly ego autonomy. From the beginning, then, its purpose is to be separate, sufficient unto itself and independent of any power except its own. This is why it is the symbol of separation.
Every idea has a purpose, and its purpose is always the natural outcome of what it is. Everything that stems from the ego is the natural outcome of its central belief, and the way to undo its results is merely to recognise that their source is not natural, being out of accord with your true nature. I said before that to will contrary to God is wishful thinking and not real willing. His Will is one because the extension of His Will cannot be unlike itself. The real conflict you experience, then, is between the ego’s idle wishes and the Will of God, which you share. Can this be a real conflict?
Yours is the independence of creation, not of autonomy. Your whole creative function lies in your complete dependence on God, Whose function He shares with you. By His willingness to share it, He became as dependent on you as you are on Him. Do not ascribe the ego’s arrogance to Him Who wills not to be independent of you. He has included you in His Autonomy. Can you believe that autonomy is meaningful apart from Him? The belief in ego autonomy is costing you the knowledge of your dependence on God, in which your freedom lies. The ego sees all dependency as threatening, and has twisted even your longing for God into a means of establishing itself. But do not be deceived by its interpretation of your conflict.
The ego always attacks on behalf of separation. Believing it has the power to do this it does nothing else, because its goal of autonomy is nothing else. The ego is totally confused about reality, but it does not lose sight of its goal. It is much more vigilant than you are, because it is perfectly certain of its purpose. You are confused because you do not recognise yours.
You must recognise that the last thing the ego wishes you to realise is that you are afraid of it. For if the ego could give rise to fear, it would diminish your independence and weaken your power. Yet its one claim to your allegiance is that it can give power to you. Without this belief you would not listen to it at all. How, then, can its existence continue if you realise that, by accepting it, you are belittling yourself and depriving yourself of power?
The ego can and does allow you to regard yourself as supercilious, unbelieving, ‘light-hearted’, distant, emotionally shallow, callous, uninvolved and even desperate, but not really afraid. Minimising fear, but not its undoing, is the ego’s constant effort, and is indeed a skill at which it is very ingenious. How can it preach separation without upholding it through fear, and would you listen to it if you recognised this is what it is doing?
Your recognition that whatever seems to separate you from God is only fear, regardless of the form it takes and quite apart from how the ego wants you to experience it, is therefore the basic ego threat. Its dream of autonomy is shaken to its foundation by this awareness. For though you may countenance a false idea of independence, you will not accept the cost of fear if you recognise it. Yet this is the cost, and the ego cannot minimise it. If you overlook love you are overlooking yourself, and you must fear unreality because you have denied yourself. By believing that you have successfully attacked truth, you are believing that attack has power. Very simply, then, you have become afraid of yourself. And no one wants to find what he believes would destroy him.
If the ego’s goal of autonomy could be accomplished God’s purpose could be defeated, and this is impossible. Only by learning what fear is can you finally learn to distinguish the possible from the impossible and the false from the true. According to the ego’s teaching, its goal can be accomplished and God’s purpose can not. According to the Holy Spirit’s teaching, only God’s purpose can be accomplished, and it is accomplished already.
God is as dependent on you as you are on Him, because His Autonomy encompasses yours, and is therefore incomplete without it. You can only establish your autonomy by identifying with Him, and fulfilling your function as it exists in truth. The ego believes that to accomplish its goal is happiness. But it is given you to know that God’s function is yours, and happiness cannot be found apart from your joint will. Recognise only that the ego’s goal, which you have pursued so diligently, has merely brought you fear, and it becomes difficult to maintain that fear is happiness. Upheld by fear, this is what the ego would have you believe. Yet God’s Son is not insane, and cannot believe it. Let him but recognise it and he will not accept it. For only the insane would choose fear in place of love, and only the insane could believe that love can be gained by attack. But the sane realise that only attack could produce fear, from which the Love of God completely protects them.
The ego analyses; the Holy Spirit accepts. The appreciation of wholeness comes only through acceptance, for to analyse means to break down or to separate out. The attempt to understand totality by breaking it down is clearly the characteristically contradictory approach of the ego to everything. The ego believes that power, understanding and truth lie in separation, and to establish this belief it must attack. Unaware that the belief cannot be established, and obsessed with the conviction that separation is salvation, the ego attacks everything it perceives by breaking it into small, disconnected parts, without meaningful relationships and therefore without meaning. The ego will always substitute chaos for meaning, for if separation is salvation, harmony is threat.
The ego’s interpretation of the laws of perception are, and would have to be, the exact opposite of the Holy Spirit’s. The ego focuses on error and overlooks truth. It makes real every mistake it perceives, and with characteristically circular reasoning concludes that because of the mistake consistent truth must be meaningless. The next step, then, is obvious. If consistent truth is meaningless, inconsistency must be true. Holding error clearly in mind, and protecting what it has made real, the ego proceeds to the next step in its thought system: Error is real and truth is error.
The ego makes no attempt to understand this, and it is clearly not understandable, but the ego does make every attempt to demonstrate it, and this it does constantly. Analysing to attack meaning the ego succeeds in overlooking it, and is left with a series of fragmented perceptions which it unifies on behalf of itself. This, then, becomes the universe it perceives. And it is this universe which, in turn, becomes its demonstration of its own reality.
Do not underestimate the appeal of the ego’s demonstrations to those who would listen. Selective perception chooses its witnesses carefully, and its witnesses are consistent. The case for insanity is strong to the insane. For reasoning ends at its beginning, and no thought system transcends its source. Yet reasoning without meaning cannot demonstrate anything, and those who are convinced by it must be deluded. Can the ego teach truly when it overlooks truth? Can it perceive what it has denied? Its witnesses do attest to its denial, but hardly to what it has denied. The ego looks straight at the Father and does not see Him, for it has denied His Son.
Would you remember the Father? Accept His Son and you will remember Him. Nothing can demonstrate that His Son is unworthy, for nothing can prove that a lie is true. What you see of His Son through the eyes of the ego is a demonstration that His Son does not exist, yet where the Son is the Father must be. Accept what God does not deny, and it will demonstrate its truth. The witnesses for God stand in His Light and behold what He created. Their silence is the sign that they have beheld God’s Son, and in the Presence of Christ they need demonstrate nothing, for Christ speaks to them of Himself and of His Father. They are silent because Christ speaks to them, and it is His words they speak.
Every brother you meet becomes a witness for Christ or for the ego, depending on what you perceive in him. Everyone convinces you of what you want to perceive, and of the reality of the kingdom you have chosen for your vigilance. Everything you perceive is a witness to the thought system you want to be true. Every brother has the power to release you, if you choose to be free. You cannot accept false witness of him unless you have evoked false witnesses against him. If he speaks not of Christ to you, you spoke not of Christ to him. You hear but your own voice, and if Christ speaks through you, you will hear Him.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 2
For this review we will use these ideas:
1. (79) Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved.
Let me realize today that the problem is always some form of grievance that I would cherish. Let me also understand that the solution is always a miracle with which I let the grievance be replaced. Today I would remember the simplicity of salvation by reinforcing the lesson that there is one problem and one solution. The problem is a grievance; the solution is a miracle. And I invite the solution to come to me through my forgiveness of the grievance, and my welcome of the miracle that takes its place.
2. Specific applications of this idea might be in these forms:
This presents a problem to me which I would have resolved.
The miracle behind this grievance will resolve it for me.
The answer to this problem is the miracle that it conceals.
3. (80) Let me recognize my problems have been solved.
I seem to have problems only because I am misusing time. I believe that the problem comes first, and time must elapse before it can be worked out. I do not see the problem and the answer as simultaneous in their occurrence. That is because I do not yet realize that God has placed the answer together with the problem, so that they cannot be separated by time. The Holy Spirit will teach me this, if I will let Him. And I will understand it is impossible that I could have a problem which has not been solved already.
4. These forms of the idea will be useful for specific applications:
I need not wait for this to be resolved.
The answer to this problem is already given me, if I will accept it.
Time cannot separate this problem from its solution.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) If God does not even know about us or the world, what is the meaning or purpose of prayer?
A) Prayer in the traditional sense has no place in the theory or practice of A Course in Miracles. For most formal religions, prayer implores a God perceived to be outside oneself to intercede, intervene, or otherwise be involved in a perceived problem affecting oneself or others. The problem is thus always seen as being outside the mind, and outside the person’s ability to solve. And God, in the sense seen in the classical Greek plays, is perceived as the deus ex machina (literally meaning “God out of the machine”) who suddenly and quite magically enters into our world to fix what has gone awry, just as was done in the performances of the ancient plays when an actual machine appeared on stage carrying the god who made all things right at the end. If God were to operate in this way (including of course Jesus or the Holy Spirit, His representatives in the dream), then He would be violating the Course’s “prime directive” (to borrow a term from Star Trek), which is not to make the error real (T-9.IV.4:1-6; “The Song of Prayer” p. 9, S-2.1.3:3-4), which trying to fix an illusory problem in an illusory world would certainly do.
That is why Jesus states early in the text that “the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything” (T-3.V.6:3). And of course asking for help of the Holy Spirit to access our right minds is a form of this prayer. Forgiveness undoes the mind’s misthought that there actually is a problem that has to be resolved. The real problem, naturally, is the belief that there is a problem in the first place. And so we need not pray for an external figure to remove an external problem. Rather, we pray for help in reminding ourselves that indeed there is only one problem (the belief in separation) and one solution (Atonement), and moreover, this problem has alreadybeen solved (W-pI.79, 80). The answer but waits for our acceptance.
For a more complete treatment of the subject of prayer, the reader is referred to the scribed pamphlet, “The Song of Prayer,” [Note: this pamphlet is now included in teh Third Edition of ACIM] specifically, the first section called “Prayer.”